The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 1880.
It is painfully evident that whatever superiority the mass of New Zealand’s amateur soldiers possess as shots, or at drill, there is a very large per centage of them wanting in the characteristics of manliness that ought to distinguish the true soldier, While, let us hope, only a small modicum of them have such a hazy idea of honesty as those persons who yesterday rushed and openly robbed the shop of Mr. Furness, tobacconist and fruiterer. A special train brought up about 1,500 Volunteers from the South for the Christchurch encampment. The Volunteers in the carriages were .apparently, from their uniforms, the representatives of every company along the line where corps exist. When the train stopped, a rush was made by the thirsty and drunken ones for the refreshment rooms, for the nearest hotels, and for the shops contiguous to the railway station where anything eatable was to be obtained. A crowd of fifty, without even the lame excuse of being drunk, swarmed into the shop of Mr. Furness, which out of consideration for men coming off a long journey, Mrs. Furness opened. Being Good Friday, and no rush of visitors expected, it had not been Mrs. Furness’ intention to open at all : besides, her husband is lying seriously ill, and requiring the most of her time and attention. No sooner had she opened the door than the cowardly crowd swarmed into the shop, and while she supplied one or two with fruit from the shop window the rest coolly pocketed everything they could lay hands on, and made off. The shelves on which the tobacco, cigars, pipes, and matches were piled were swept of their valuables. The fruit boxes outside the counter were emptied ; some half-dozen tin boxes of biscuits were relieved of the last bite within them that was eatable, and the stock of lollies was reduced very speedily to low water-mark. And this without any attempt to pay. This is certainly admirable conduct for men wearing Her Majesty’s uniform and claiming to be their country's defenders. Under ordinary circumstances a poor miserable starving wretch who dared put forth his hand to steal would be hunted down and sent to prison, while his disrespect for honesty would be made the subject of a high toned moral lecture by the judge. But here we have half a hundred young men, claiming no doubt, to be well brought up and highly respectable, stooping down to the level of the common thief, and in the most cowardly manner possible, robbing the shop of a poor woman who is virtually a widow, for her. husband is bedfast and helpless with paralysis, and the medical men have given him up as hopeless. We hope some effort will be made to bring the offenders to justice, for by their blackguardism they bring disgrace upon the whole volunteer force, and it is a pity that the respectable men who belong to the Volunteers should have to be named in the same breath with the ignorant and cowardly louts whose doings yesterday we have been recounting. It is a fact worth noticing that some disgraceful scene always occurs whenever there is a large movement of Volunteers ; and if every event of the kind is to have for a characterising feature an outburst of larrikinism, then the sooner the New Zealand military movement is a stationary one the better. One could almost be tempted to wish that Te Whiti would assume a warlike attitude and get into battle array, if it were for nothing else then to see how these valiant robbers of a woman’s shop would stand fire when real fighting was to be done. It is evident that some sort of discipline must'be exercised over the crowd of ill-bred larrikins who disgrace the ranks of our Volunteers, for it is intolerable that their entrance to a wayside town should be >a signal for lawless pillage, and every journey they make considered by them an opportunity for getting drunk and indulging in all sorts of senseless mischief. Some of the valiant ones, too, were drunk enough to lose the train, and they were to be seen rolling about the township making asses of themselves until the special train in the afternoon arrived to relieve us of their disagreeable company. The Naval Brigades have now and again been saddled with the discredit of being guilty of little bits of larrikinism, their uniforms being a tell tale evidence against the corps when any of them are caught in the crowd of wrong doers. But the thefts of yesterday were the work of men of all arms and of many corps—artillery, rifle, and naval, —showing that there are larrikins in ranks of other companies than the rough and ready landseamen. We hope the thieves will be hunted up and punished, and that the guilty ones will be compelled to make good to Mrs. Furness the ravages they have made upon her stock. 4. The Templar Hall Company, Limited, have just issued their annual balance sheet, but we cannot congratulate the
shareholders upon having a very lucid statement of the Company’s affairs before them. We are aware that the present management assumed control at a time when the success of the affair had been seriously jeopardized by the shortcomings of their predecessors, and we cheerfully recognise their efforts towards better organisation, but the balance-sheet now under notice, is neither so clear as we should like nor so satisfactory as the apparent business of the Company led us to anticipate. The statement of liabilities and assets shows a balance of £403 8s 5d favorable to the former, but this gratifying appearance is attained by a flattering valuation of the property of the Company, which could not be nearly sustained if that crucial test realisation—were resorted to. The buildings and section are taken as assets at cost price, and when we remember that these were acquired at a period when such property was at fictitiously high prices, and the building is subject to rapid deterioration, this course is obviously unsound. Amidst the assets we also notice large items representing arrears on calls and rents due, and we must consider the directory of the Company singularly fortunate if they have placed their credit where it can be valued at its gross sum. Accepting the figures as passed by the auditors as correct, we find that the Company have made a profit of £ls Bs. sd. during their existence, and as they are now enjoying a golden opportunity to achie re a larger success, we hope the present management will make hay while the sun shines, and by a judicious policy insure the favorable issue which the promoters of this and similar undertakings deserve.